What are the risks and side effects of untreated OSA?
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in North America affecting both men and women regardless of age. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the closing of the airway either partially or fully, which prevents oxygen from flowing into the lungs and causes the person to stop breathing during sleep. Unfortunately, many people who have OSA are commonly not aware they have this disorder and when undiagnosed, a growing number of health problems can begin to accumulate with a weakened immune system.
Untreated sleep apnea has many side effects that affect our daily lives. Observable signs include sleep deprivation, restless sleep, and chronic fatigue. These lead to side effects that are less noticeable such as depression and poor memory that disturb our performance and well-being as sleep helps consolidate memories. During every episode of apnea, our brain is reminded to wake up to gasp for air, which continuously interrupts different stages of restoring our energy and repairing our body. Sleep deprivation usually leads to the major outcome of injuries and work related accidents, which in some cases can be fatal.
In addition, the risks of OSA points to many consequences of developing long-term health risks. Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between sleep apnea and different cardiovascular problems. A person diagnosed with sleep apnea has their sleep constantly interrupted by dysfunctional breathing patterns, leading to lower levels of blood oxygen. By depriving your body of oxygen while you sleep, it causes pulmonary hypertension by increasing higher blood pressure in the lungs, straining your heart.
Common heart problems include:
Cardiac arrhythmia / Irregular heartbeat
Pulmonary hypertension / High blood pressure in the lungs
Congestive heart failure and other complications
Another risk of sleep apnea is being more vulnerable to Type 2 diabetes. People with sleep apnea are more likely to develop a condition where the body is resistant to the hormone, Insulin. This causes the blood sugar level to rise and very difficult to maintain. As sleep is being fragmented, it is disrupting our ability to restore our body to function optimally putting you in other risks such as liver, metabolism, and reproductive system problems.
Thankfully, many are beginning to learn about the serious impact that sleep apnea can have on their health and everyday lives. CPAP therapy is proven to be the most effective treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The course of CPAP therapy may take a bit of time and effort to adjust to, but there are many different masks and PAP devices available to improve the comfort of pap delivery. There are different CPAP, APAP, Bi-PAP machines with humidifiers and options of heated hosing. We encourage those that are diagnosed to be proactive about the therapy to improve their quality of life and prevent themselves from the risk of developing negative long-term health issues.